As Paul wrote to Timothy he was facing problems: 1) He was a prisoner held in chains and likely to soon face death; 2) He was concerned about future of the church; and 3) He wondered if Timothy, was up to the task of continuing this mission. When Paul wrote about the word/scripture he had two things in mind. Primarily he was speaking about the Old Testament scriptures. Secondly, He was referring to the good news about Jesus the Anointed, Risen, King. “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, ….” (2 Timothy 2:8–9) Jesus, the divine human, is at the centre of Paul’s gospel. How would you summarise your gospel, what you believe about Jesus, in just a few words? For Paul, Jesus is the gospel, Jesus is the good news. The trustworthiness of the Saviour and the trustworthiness of the Word are so closely woven together they are hard to separate one from the other.
One reason we believe the word is trustworthy is because it has been passed on to us by trustworthy people. In Timothy’s case Paul states, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5) This was a multi-generational faith, grandmother, mother and son, all with faith in the gospel. Timothy not only had the trustworthy example of his close family, he also had the trustworthy example of Paul himself. Timothy had travelled with Paul and worked with Paul establishing churches and nurturing congregations. “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings.” (2 Timothy 3:10–11) Timothy knew what Paul taught about Jesus, because Paul was a close friend, mentor, and teacher.
The word is trustworthy because its source is God, because it was “God-breathed.” The apostle Peter also believed it was trustworthy, completely reliable, because “… prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) Both Peter and Paul saw the word as inspired revelation from God who communicates truth to us. As trustworthy people they passed this revelation on to others. To have a trustworthy account from trustworthy eyewitnesses is good reason to have confidence in the word of God. Paul believed God works through the trustworthy word, that while he might be in chains, the gospel is not chained. This is an amazingly liberating thought. The gospel is not imprisoned.
Paul believed God’s trustworthy word is useful, it is … able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15–17) God’s word brings wisdom and is useful in the lives of those who read it and allow it to shape their lives. The trustworthy word equips people for every good work. Given the priority of the gospel as God’s trustworthy word, Paul commanded Timothy to preach it, in and out of season, and to pass it on to trustworthy people.
What convinced you that God’s word was trustworthy?
How do you find this word useful in your life?
In what ways do you pass it on to others?
Rev John Malcolm